I’ve wanted to travel for as long as I can remember. I’ve been lucky enough to have some cool family holidays growing up, and I always loved being somewhere new.
But travelling, getting to grips with a place, its people and culture is not often possible on a two week trip, particularly if your parents are more sun-lounger than adventure-seeker.
At 17 I spent a month as an intern at a publishing house in Dubai. I’ll never forget my first sighting of the lights blazing from the middle of nothingness. I fell in love with a city that had a way of life poles apart from anything I’d ever seen before. The mezze, the souks, the heat; it was a heady mix – and I was hooked.
Then, at uni, I didn’t really have enough to fund an expedition, I was too busy buying books or eating cake with my then boyfriend. Not that I’m complaining. You see, above all, I’m great at procrastinating. Nothing beats lazing in bed, electric blanket on – it was cold in Sheffield – gin in hand and devouring travel magazines. In other words, living vicariously until I could do it for real. I took it seriously: notebooks were filled, maps bought, routes highlighted and equipment purchased. Then… Nothing. I’d finished my degree, had moved home and was doing a job I hated. I had no focus and floundered. The then boyfriend was still studying, and it was never really his dream. So I quit my job and flew to Dubai to “get my head together” and to figure out how to spend my life writing for a living.
Ta da! Three weeks in to my navel pondering I landed myself with a job. Deputy editor and writer for an international travel publishing company. It meant leaving everything behind, but it would all work out. Skip to the end – it didn’t, thanks economic crisis. I lost my job and my savings – and the bloke.
Coming home felt like a real kick in the teeth, I’d gone back, not forward. Within six weeks though, I’d got myself a writing job for TUI UK & Ireland, they’re the people behind the Thomson and First Choice holiday brands. I worked with a great team and learnt so much. However, I was constantly fighting off illness, some seeing me miss weeks at a time. Plus, I struggled with the 9-5 of it all, mornings are not my creative best.
The irony of this is that I returned home (again) to retrain as a teacher. I loved being back at university, I think more than I loved the placements… Fast forward two years and I was struggling. Again. I was never able to shake off the feeling that what I was doing wasn’t enough. I was reading so many travel stories about people quitting their jobs, becoming digital nomads, and living an authentic life.
So I left. I upped sticks and moved to Madrid. Started to teach EFL to Spanish adults. A year later I was home. For reasons I’ll delve in to in another post another time.